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eNeuro. 2018 Dec 28;5(6). pii: ENEURO.0253-18.2018. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0253-18.2018. eCollection 2018 Nov-Dec.

Impaired Cognitive Function after Perineuronal Net Degradation in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex.

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Neurochemical Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G 2R3 Canada.
Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G 2E1 Canada.
Department of Physiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, S7N 5E Canada.


Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are highly organized components of the extracellular matrix that surround a subset of mature neurons in the CNS. These structures play a critical role in regulating neuronal plasticity, particularly during neurodevelopment. Consistent with this role, their presence is associated with functional and structural stability of the neurons they ensheath. A loss of PNNs in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been suggested to contribute to cognitive impairment in disorders such as schizophrenia. However, the direct consequences of PNN loss in medial PFC (mPFC) on cognition has not been demonstrated. Here, we examined behavior after disruption of PNNs in mPFC of Long-Evans rats following injection of the enzyme chondroitinase ABC (ChABC). Our data show that ChABC-treated animals were impaired on tests of object oddity perception. Performance in the cross-modal object recognition (CMOR) task was not significantly different for ChABC-treated rats, although ChABC-treated rats were not able to perform above chance levels whereas control rats were. ChABC-treated animals were not significantly different from controls on tests of prepulse inhibition (PPI), set-shifting (SS), reversal learning, or tactile and visual object recognition memory. Posthumous immunohistochemistry confirmed significantly reduced PNNs in mPFC due to ChABC treatment. Moreover, PNN density in the mPFC predicted performance on the oddity task, where higher PNN density was associated with better performance. These findings suggest that PNN loss within the mPFC impairs some aspects of object oddity perception and recognition and that PNNs contribute to cognitive function in young adulthood.


cognition; memory; perineuronal nets

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